Wednesday, December 3, 2014

European Vacation Day 5--Rome

We slept in past 10 am on our second day in Rome.  It was a much needed night of rest after all the traveling, walking, and touring we'd done so far.  My notes for this day are pretty sketchy so I am using my photos to help my memory along.

Our first stop was the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e de Martiri, otherwise known as the Michelangelo church, as he is credited as the main architect of the church built upon the ruins of the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian.  This church had some truly amazing features more to the liking of the scientist than the artist, but still a gorgeous church.

I absolutely loved the stained glass in the dome.

Across the marble floor there was an inlaid meridian solar line (a type of sundial) that marks the day of the year as the sun shines through a special portal at solar noon.

The sun shines through a tiny cut out at the right of the arch where you can make out a cut out piece.  

Facing the window used for the solar meridian source.

Our next stop was to visit the 3rd of the 4 major Papal Basilicas; San Paolo fuori le Mura (Saint Paul outside the Walls).  This church is as splendid outside as it is inside and was probably my favorite of the four.

The square outside the church is surrounded by marble colonnades.

The exterior of the church is covered in exquisite mosaics.

The courtyard in front of the church with the magnificent statue of Saint Paul in the center.

The mosaics within the church are equally magnificent.  One of the main attractions of this church are the circular mosaic portraits of each of the 266 Popes--from Saint Peter to Francis.

Constantine commissioned the building of Saint Paul's in this location as tradition had indicated it as the spot of Saint Paul's tomb.  Paul, having been a Roman citizen convicted of being a Christian heretic, was afforded the right of death by beheading, rather than crucifixion.  Such executions of Roman citizens had to be carried out outside the walls of Rome--thus the title of the church Saint Paul's outside the Walls.  From 2002 to 2006 the area beneath the main altar was excavated and it was confirmed there is a marble tomb beneath inscribed with "Paolo Apostle Mart" and then further confirmed to be the final tomb of Saint Paul (his remains were moved about during the persecutions to the catacombs outside Rome and then moved back to this spot by Constantine).  Above the tomb is a glass reliquary containing the chains which bound him during his imprisonment before martyrdom.  It really was an honor to be able to pray at his tomb.

We visited Santa Maria della Vittoria next and saw Bernini's amazing masterpiece The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.

The lighting within most of the churches we visited was pretty poor, making it impossible for me to use my good camera (especially since most churches would not allow flash photography, if they allowed photography at all) so obviously my iPhone could not even come close to doing this statue justice.  It is truly an amazing piece and I was thrilled to even see it in person.

The exterior of Santa Maria del Popolo.  She seems like such a simple unassuming church, but contained within are some of the most beautiful works of art by famous Renaissance artists.  There is a chapel designed and decorated by Raphael and in another obscure side chapel are two amazing pieces by my favorite Renaissance master, Caravaggio.  I nearly missed seeing them, as not only are they in a side chapel, they are the side artwork of the side chapel!

Throughout Rome, there are running fountains with fresh, potable water.  The boys loved getting sips from the ancient drinking fountains.

At the end of another long day of walking, we found our way to Dar Poeta, which, in my opinion, has the absolute best pizza in Rome.  Of course, the 4 euro carafe of delicious red wine raised my opinion of the pizza ;)

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